Wintertime, and the livin' is breezy...


Every year, like clockwork, the Indy dedicates the 47th issue of the year to winter recreation. In the past we've published long stories, short stories and photo essays focused on the various and sundry ways to enjoy yourself in Montana's bitterest-or bestest-season, depending on your tolerance for such weather. But no matter what we did, it always felt like we were leaving something out.

This year we're leaving nothing out. There are 118 days from this issue's publication date to the official end of winter, March 20, and the pages that follow contain 118 things to do with them. We've even provided handy check-boxes so you can mark your progress through the long, hard slog to spring.

Some of our recommendations are easy, some are hard, and a few are so illegal and/or irresponsible that you really shouldn't do them at all. We're just throwing ideas out there-what you do or don't do with them is between you and your lawyer. But if you try even a few of our suggestions-time-tested in our own personal winters, of discontent and otherwise-you'll almost certainly find at the end that you've made something close to the most of your season.

118 Things to Do this Winter

Build a crackly ice fort out of the piles of frozen leaves that the city never picked up-mostly because you raked them to the curb weeks after the pick-up date and never bothered to call to reschedule.

Get really high and give your house a spring cleaning, even though, you know, it's not spring.

Heat. Or eat.

Sip hot chocolate at Finn and Porter while watching the Clark Fork freeze.

Take the dogs camping.

Attend the Snowbowl Cup Gelande Championship, Nov. 25-26.

Huddle over a can of Sterno under a bridge for one hour, just to see how cold it really can get.

Mull your own wine.

Freeze your extremities off at a Polar Plunge in Wood's Bay or Whitefish.

Watch other people freeze their extremities off at a Polar Plunge while sipping Bailey's and coffee.

Start a winter garden in an indoor window box.

Grow a beard.

Try meth, aka ice, just once. (Note to lawyers and other people: Just kidding. Don't try meth, not even once.)

Write your name in the snow with warm, umm, water.

Find all the hidden smoke shacks on Big Mountain.

Build a roaring fire in your backyard during a snowstorm and stand around it with friends sipping ice-cold beer from mugs chilled in the freezer. Contemplate the concept of waste.

Plan a spring canoe trip.

Rein in the wind at the Montana Snowkite Roundup, Dec. 10-11 at Georgetown Lake, where you can get pulled across a frozen lake by a big kite at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Start smoking a pipe. Accessorize with cardigan.

Adopt a homeless cat.

Build a scale model of an igloo with ice cubes. Make your cat live in there.

Make homemade ice cream. Douse with brandy. Set on fire. Warm hands. Eat.

See if the cookie crumbles differently at the top of Lolo Pass, where a fresh batch of treats will win you entry into a fun cross-country ski race Dec. 11 at the Lolo Pass ski trails.

Take an avalanche awareness class. Check out the West Central Montana Avalanche Center ( for seasonal and local avie-related beta, or UM's Outdoor Program (http://www. for preseason


Invest in down booties.

Employ the process of elimination to find out if the best Bloody Marys around are indeed mixed at Snowbowl's Last Run Inn.

See a local band; go home not smelling like a smoky bar.

Start your own newspaper. Everybody's doing it.

Blow chunks tailgating at a Griz football playoff game. Maybe even watch the contest.

Erect a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn in the middle of the night. The next morning, sue to have it removed.

Get high above the inversion; gloat momentarily.

Grab a broom, duct tape some dishrags to your knees and join a Broomball league. The deadline to sign up through Missoula Parks and Rec. is Dec. 14. Call 721-PARK for more info.

Fly to the desert cheaper than you could drive. Check out

Cut down-ahem, thin-your own Christmas tree.

Hand someone your video camera, strap on a helmet, grab an inner tube and go all the way to the top of the Blue Mountain sledding hill. Repeat until you have a viable "America's Funniest Home Videos" entry.

See Bigfork's ambitious holiday decorations before the vandals do.

Nearly overload the power plant with your Christmas lights, pass sleepless nights dreaming of Hawaiian Christmas maidens, then coat the underside of a shiny metal saucer with non-nutritive cereal varnish and let 'er rip. Maybe watch Christmas Vacation when you're done with that.

Buy something you see on a First Friday ArtWalk.

Organize a ski-mask and moon-boot orgy.

Attend the Garden City Ballet's annual Nutcracker performance, Dec. 16-18.

Paint your face like a tiger and get rowdy at a Glacier Hockey League game at Glacier Ice Rink. For info visit

Go Christmas caroling, bring a tank of helium, sing only songs from the Christmas with the Chipmunks albums.

Catch a double feature of moody, subtitled foreign flicks with heavy Oscar buzz at the Wilma Theatre.

Give a few bucks to the bell-ringing Santas from The Salvation Army. 'Tis the season, you know?

Take in Whitefish Winter Carnival.

Drive around looking at holiday lights. We suggest the University district. Try to guess how much enthusiastic households are paying in electric bills this winter.

Hike six miles through 32-degree rain on Christmas Eve. Soak in hot springs until warm again. Wake up to 6 inches of fresh snow and big flakes falling. Soak until pruned.

Have Christmas dinner at Charlie's Bar.

Wear your Chacos to a tanning salon; amaze your friends with a golden December glow.

Drink a hot toddy. Our basic recipe: warm water, slice of lemon, tablespoon of honey and one shot of Jim Beam. For extra spice, add nutmeg or a cinnamon stick.

Get over it and learn how to snowboard or ski.

Check out First Night Missoula. Wear three coats. Go home and get drunk.

Kill an afternoon playing Kineti-Go at the Kettlehouse. It's free.

Shred the gnar-gnar when the pow-pow falls.

Make a snow devil.

Make a New Year's resolution. Break it. Tell people your snow devil made you do it.

Have a snowball fight. Gain the high ground from a rooftop above Higgins Avenue.

Attend John Engen's inauguration Jan. 3. Hell, maybe go to a City Council meeting. You can apply for patronage and even stay up on current events.

Wax your board or pay someone else to.


Take the blue bus to the Last Run Inn at Snowbowl; no need to bother skiing.

Round up the neighborhood kids and reenact classic Atari games like Space Invaders, Centipede and Missile Command with snowballs.

Join in/attend/protest the Coyote Calling Contest in Baker-80 miles east of Miles City-where the local chamber of commerce is offering a purse to the team that kills the most coyotes on Jan. 14.

Keep riding your bike, you p****.

Donate winter boots to the Poverello Center.

Stalk a yeti.

Try an eHike through Glacier National Park, available at Beware of evalanches.

Have a summer feast in the winter by cooking food you preserved from your garden and meat you harvested last week.

Celebrate Mozart's 250th birthday (Jan. 27).

Finally get around to winterizing your car with a snow brush, ice scraper, gas line anti-freeze, insulated work gloves, a couple heavy blankets and chemical heater packs to keep your digits from dropping off when your car goes dead on the road to nowhere.

Fill your basement with sand and invite your neighbors over for a beach party.

Stick your tongue to a flagpole. Alternately, double-dog-dare the person next to you to stick his tongue to a flagpole.

Pack your bong with snow and enjoy...your...tobacco.

Take a full-moon hike.

Blur your seasonal boundaries at the Frost Fever Winter Festival, put on by Missoula Parks and Rec (721-PARK) Jan. 28-29, where you can find pickup games of snow volleyball, football and softball.

Put a warm six-pack in a snow bank. Wait. Then drink.

Join an ice-fishing derby.

Catch a snowflake on your tongue.

Turn yourself into a snowball by rolling down a long, snowy hill. If you can't handle the intensity, ensconce yourself in a garbage can.

Build a snow shelter, and don't be afraid to venture beyond the traditional dome design. How about a three-room igloo? How about a Tudor mansion?

Mush on over to the 21st annual Race to the Sky Sled Dog Competition, a 350-mile race through Montana backcountry, Feb. 3-9.

Rent a Forest Service cabin or lookout deep in the woods (check out for rental information), cross-country ski to it with your best friend, conceive a secret love child, and name him or her Forest.

Be a dear and clear off your neighbor's car some frigid morning.

Make your own snowshoes from the wicker chairs you destroyed last summer.

Snowmobile in Yellowstone.

Protest snowmobiling in Yellowstone.

Learn to identify wildlife tracks. Follow in your own footsteps to find your way home.

Invite your friends and neighbors over for a winter barbeque. Eat burgers and hot dogs while sitting on lawn furniture you made from snow while waiting for the grub to cook.

Poach a hotel hot tub.

Revel in Montana's shortest, coldest and loudest parade, the 2006 Lunar New Year Parade in Butte, which starts at 3 p.m. at the courthouse on Feb. 4, chases away evil spirits with a massive dragon and ends with the lighting of 10,000 fireworks.

Hide a Twinkie in the snow. Wait for spring. Enjoy surprise.

Try not to kill yourself while ice climbing at Mission Falls or Finley Creek in the Mission Mountains, or Swan Slabs in Blodgett Canyon. Try not to kill yourself on sick slabs of ice in Glacier National Park, too.

Build a ski jump on your garage roof. Invite your friends (not your insurance agent) and hire an ambulance to stand by.

Make snow cones out of fresh snow, Kool-Aid, booze or your favorite local microbrew. (Beware of yellow snow cones.)

Wait for a good snowfall and shovel snow off a portion of your yard. Pile and pack the snow around the perimeter. Flood the cleared surface with water. Wait until frozen; repeat until you have your own skating rink.

Impress your friends by learning to identify leafless trees.

Don't be like Alice and get lost in a winter wonderland, because there probably won't be a trippy caterpillar to help sort you out and send you on your way. Learn about winter orienteering in a one-day Parks and Rec workshop Feb. 4 (call 721-PARK for more info).

Fill the old kiddie pool in your backyard with water, add goldfish, wait for surface to freeze, go ice fishing.

Build a snowman in your neighbor's driveway.

Write a letter to the editor noting that it used to be colder in the old days. Blame it on global warming. Blame everything on global warming.

Write a letter to Santa asking for a new pair of winter Bermuda shorts, because of global warming.

Craft a dummy and haul it to Big Sky Resort on Feb. 11 for the Dummy Jump, where your homemade friend will be launched off a ski jump and everyone will laugh when he/she explodes on impact.

Strap a set of antlers to your labrador's head and reenact that scene from How The Grinch Stole Christmas.


Light a menorah.

Go to the mall and sit on Santa's lap.

Make snow sculptures and "paint" them using a spray bottle filled with colored water or Kool-Aid.

Cozy up to the fire at The Depot.

Check out at least one of the more than 100 world-class documentaries being screened during the Big Sky Film Festival (Feb. 15-22).

Fondue party!

Host a post-Christmas yard sale to get rid of all the crap you got.

Call your granny.

Roast a chestnut.

Roast a marshmallow.


Go to the airport in Helena to pick up a friend who couldn't land because of the weather condition the airline industry calls freezing fog but we all know as the inversion.

See what happens when you cross ski bumming and cowboying at the National Ski Joring Finals in Red Lodge March 11-12.

When you think it's cold in the Flathead, drive over to East Glacier for a reality check.


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